This Is Not A Good Blog (Post).

When you start a blog, the first, automated post says “hello world.” While it’s generally considered poor taste to leave this post up, it ironically fits this writing endeavor. I hesitate to call this an attempt at a travel blog (as I have repeatedly failed to develop a blogging habit, as you may find on the archives of this site).

Instead, let’s call this “travel writing.”

You might be wondering why. It’s not just semantics to me. I know what a good blog looks like, and this is not going to be it.

Good blogs have regular content (I offer no guarantee of consistent posts) with a distinct voice or theme; good blogs have compelling media; they have a target audience (I’m doing this mostly for myself, and family and friends – so, okay, I guess I have an audience) and good blogs are written well (this one, I’m going to try).

This is not a good blog.

Now that we’ve established what this is (not), you might be wondering: why now? Or rather, why not before?

Before beginning my adventure in Europe, an acquaintance asked why I wouldn’t blog about it. The question has stuck with me ever since.

I’ve always been worried it wouldn’t be a good blog, so why bother. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about this.

I am finally headed towards a place where it’s okay if this A.) embarrassing or B.) not perfect. (Thanks, Liz.)

I love to write, and am looking for a way to explore this passion. I want to share my adventures with my family and friends. I miss you all so much, and this provides an additional lifeline between my travel experiences and the people I love. Through sending occasional email updates, I have also found that writing about my experiences helps me appreciate and process them.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed an introductory post: a beginning. A story has a beginning. A middle. An end. By definition, it starts at the beginning. I can’t tell you exactly where this adventures started…

With my trip to Mexico with my Spanish class in 2009? During my study abroad in Toledo, Spain when I realized I wanted to live abroad? With quitting my first “big kid job” and jetting off with my backpack? Sometime before, a compilation of experiences that can’t be defined by a single minute? Destiny?

…But I can tell you how and why I started writing about it. That’s a beginning to me. I also needed a warm-up round of writing; a reminder I am writing for me (not money, future employment or fame); and, I needed to reassure myself – out loud – that it’s okay to write a bad blog.


Sunday Inspiration

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up…It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle — when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”


[Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the GreatestRace the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall, page 13]

Get Your Coffee On

The semester is winding down and Ohio University students are winding up…on coffee.

Athens, Ohio has coffee shops galore. They are not only familiar stops for community members, but frequent pit stops for Ohio University students. With finals finally arrived, many students are no stranger to long hours and late nights in these coffee shops.

Yet, each shop has it’s own individual environment, one that reflects the distinct characteristics for the surrounding community. As a result, many OU students develop preferences for certain hangouts.

I’ve provided a brief review of the most popular stops on Court Street so that you can find the perfect place to study this week and next.

Donkey Coffee and Espresso

Perhaps the most popular hangout, Donkey also boasts the most vibrant culture. The coffee shop, located on West Washington St., has won numerous awards for ‘best coffee shop’ locally and statewide. With poetry readings and a socially responsible menu, Donkey attracts the creative. But, Donkey, its late hours, and its overstuffed couches just might mean home for you, too.

Whit’s Custard and Perk’s Coffee

Although now serving custard, Whit’s/Perks remains a coffee shop at heart. Big windows provide natural light and a great view of campus and Court Street. Better yet, at Whit’s/Perks you can buy a small coffee for just a dollar!

Court Street Coffee

Court Street Coffee is your closest stop to campus. Although seating is limited, Court Street Coffee should be your go-to spot for group projects, which the shop can accommodate with its conference-style table. It reminds me of a cross between the living room at my parents’ house and Starbucks.

So tell me, what’s your favorite coffee place? 

Holiday Shopping in Athens

The December skies of Athens are not without holiday cheer.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but unfortunately for Bobcats, classes have not. The reality of semesters at Ohio University is officially setting in, and along with the stresses of group projects and final exams comes the pressure of holiday shopping.

Each year, my best friends and I exchange gifts. Although our “Santas” are no longer secret, we have been carrying strong the tradition of drawing names and frantically shopping for more than seven years now. As I pulled into Athens after my much-too-short Thanksgiving break, I realized that I would most likely not have the chance to leave the city again until after finals end. In turn, I realized that I would need to do most of my holiday shopping locally.

For me, this is familiar scenario. Growing up in Athens, my family and I traveled to Parkersburg or Lancaster (if not Columbus) for most of our big-ticket items. We shopped locally whenever possible. Because those shopping destinations are at least 45 minutes away, I know that I won’t be able to make the trip this December. And, I expect I won’t be the only Bobcat with that problem.

Fortunately, Athens has a great shopping scene! For those unfamiliar with the Court Street options, here are the best places to buy your holiday gifts.

 The House

For all of your favorite Bobcats and athletes, visit The House, the first collegiate Under Armour store in the nation. Although gear might be pricey, items are Under Armour brand, which means it will be easy to match sizes and ensure quality.


Located on the corners of State and Court, Artifacts offers it all – from clothes and jewelry to post cards and coffee mugs. It also has a wide selection of humorous shirts and toys. I highly recommend the store if you’re looking for a gag gift or a gift that will bring a smile to someone’s face.

 The Import House

Perhaps better know for its selection of pipes, The Import House offers much more. Stop in to peruse the candles, bumper stickers, bags and most importantly, shoes. Nearly half the store is dedicated to shoes! The Import House carries Minnetonka shoes, including the moccasins that are much-beloved by my roommates and I.

 Court Street Collections

Although it is only open three days a week, Court Street Collections is your go-to place for local gifts. From jewelry, to drinking glasses to household decorations, you can find a beautifully, hand-made gift. The store is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., so be sure to stop by before its too late.

Passionworks Studio

If you’re struggling to think of a gift for someone, a Passionworks flower is my favorite gift suggestions. Passionworks collaborates with ATCO to help disabled adults create art and earn a living. You have probably seen one of their metal flowers on campus or throughout the community. Nothing says “Athens” like one of these flowers. Not only are they beautiful decoration pieces, they also represent an incredible cause.

In addition to these stores, be sure to check out: The Fig Leaf, The Recycled Wardrobe, Mountain Laurel Gifts, The College Bookstore, Follett’s Bookstore, Little Professor, Cross Court, Betty’s Vintage Boutique, Athens Underground and the Twilight Boutique. I highly recommend you stroll down Court Street this Saturday afternoon and challenge yourself to stop into every single store!

This weekend, I am definitely planning to visit Passionworks and Little Professor. Even if you do have time to leave Athens and shop elsewhere, I HIGHLY encourage you to shop locally!

What are your favorite places to shop on Court Street? Did I miss one of your favorites?

This sign outside of The Import House encourages you to shop locally.

Ohio University’s Dads Weekend To Do List

Ohio University’s Dads Weekend is an annual favorite among college students. Last weekend, dads flocked to Athens, Ohio for a long weekend with their Bobcats.

Of all Ohio University’s special weekends, Dads Weekend is one of my favorites. To me, it is the perfect symbol of how Athens and I came to be.

When I was ten, my dad accepted a position at Ohio University. The weekend before we moved to Athens, we had our first big night out together – the Girl Scouts’ “daddy-daughter dance.” Many years later, my dad and I shared another big night out together…That time to celebrate Dads Weekend. My dad is not just the reason I moved to Athens, he’s also the reason I am a Bobcat today.

Although my dad and I were (and still are) extremely close and spend a lot of time with our family, Dads Weekend was a little awkward that first year. It was one of the first times we were alone together. We had none of my brothers’ sporting events to distract us, none of my mothers’ questions to entertain us and no one around to divert our attention.

Although my dad wasn’t able to attend this year. I have learned (through observation and trial and error) a few tips to help you make the most out of your next Dads Weekend.

What to do?

1. Attend an athletic event.

Dads Weekend usually falls around a sporting event. For example, Saturday marked the season opener for Ohio University Men’s Basketball. But, if there isn’t a varsity game, be sure to check out club sports, intramurals or even a pick up game at Ping. If you aren’t a big sports fan, this could be the perfect opportunity to learn a little from your old man.

2. See a show.

Every year the Performing Arts Series offers a show during Dads Weekend. Since I’ve been in college, Ohio University has hosted a comedian. Although I’ve never been to a Dads Weekend show, I have heard great reviews!

3. Take a walk.

We have a gorgeous campus here. Take your dad around. Show him where your classes are, which dining hall is your favorite and where you like to relax. Next time you are talking about college, he’ll be able to picture it.

Where to eat?

1. Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery

Stop by Jackie O’s for a craft beer. You can enjoy a relaxing drink without the hassle of the “bar scene.” Jackie O’s also has great food. I highly recommend the pizza.

2. Broney’s Bar and Grill

Broney’s is your average sports bar. They’ll be showing all the major sporting events and serving all your favorite “bar foods.” While the wings can be hit or miss, you can’t go wrong with the Southwestern rolls and the Champagne slushie

3. Casa Nueva

Is your dad feeling adventurous? Take him to Casa. Although you may have a wait for a seat during this busy weekend, you’ll have plenty to do during your wait. Casa serves great (local) food – quesadillas, burritos and salsa with a distinct “Casa” flair. Plus, Casa has a fun bar and often live entertainment.

What to say

1. Tell him about all of your favorites.

Where do you like to go out to eat? Where do you go when you need to escape? Offer up all the top secrets on your Athens favorites.

2.    Introduce him to your friends and their dads.

If you’re having a hard time starting conversations, bring in reinforcements. Chances are your friends are feeling the same way, too. Plus, once your dad makes friends with theirs, you can start planning your adventures for next year.

3.    Ask him what he did when he was your age.

Once you’ve told your dad all about your college experience, ask him about his! If he didn’t go to college, what did he do instead? Who were his friends? Do they keep in touch? Think of all your favorite memories, and ask him if he did anything similar.

What did you do with your dad last weekend? What would you do next year?